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January 22, 2018 Monday | Last updated on 19/01/2018 1:23PM (Singapore)
 
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Home Team News Home / People / HT Officers / Our Guardians on Watch  
Published: 28 Dec 2017 04:18PM (Singapore)
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Our Guardians on Watch
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Home Team officers are on duty around the clock to keep Singapore safe and secure – and that means they have to work even as everyone else is celebrating.
 
By Desmond Ang
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The year-end festive period is usually a time spent with family, when working adults go on leave to be with their loved ones, or pack their bags for an adventure abroad. But not so for many Home Team officers who work around the clock to safeguard Singapore.

What drives them to step up during the festive period, and give their best? For many – whether they are regulars or volunteers – it’s a simple call to service. Here are three of their stories.

23 Dec SPF Year End Duties VSC Eugene Supt Toh
 Shoulder to shoulder: Supt Toh Pei Lian (left) and Sgt (V) Eugene Lim. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture

With Orchard Road abuzz with shoppers and revellers, Superintendent (Supt) Toh Pei Lian, the Commanding Officer of the Orchard Neighbourhood Police Centre, has her hands full. But’s she’s more than ready for her task.

According to Supt Toh, this year, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has stepped up operations at malls and other public spaces, introducing In-Situ Reaction Teams (IRTS) that work in tandem with Emergency Response Teams and officers of the Special Operations Command. “We’ve deployed additional officers with more advanced equipment, to enhance how we deal with any security threats,” explained the 39-year-old.

While vigilance and duty come first for the SPF officers, a sense of humour helps, especially on public holidays. “Many officers give up time with their loved ones during the festive period,” said Supt Toh. “Sometimes we joke about the positive part of this – that we get to avoid the crowds and festive surcharges.”

“Sometimes we joke about the positive part of this – that we get to avoid the crowds and festive surcharges.”

A Volunteer Officer’s Passion

It isn’t only regular officers in the Home Team who are on alert during the festive period; standing shoulder to shoulder with them are an enthusiastic team of volunteers.

As the clock struck midnight at Orchard Road on 24 December 2017, Sergeant (Sgt) (V) Eugene Lim wasn’t with his loved ones, or boarding a plane to spend the long weekend overseas. Instead, he spent Christmas patrolling Orchard Road during the year-end festivities, and this wasn’t the first time he’d spent a public holiday on duty.

A management trainee in the automotive industry, the 26-year-old also serves as a Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) with the SPF. He’s now into his third year of service.

“It started during my university days. I wanted to gain some out-of-classroom experience, learn new skills and contribute to keeping Singapore safe,” he said. “I learnt about the VSC through a friend who was a National Service Police Inspector. A year later, I came across a recruitment booth, and that’s when I signed up.”

23 Dec SPF Year End Duties VSC Eugene
PHOTO: Desmond Ang

During patrols, Eugene pairs up with regular Police officers and handles incidents that require immediate attention. “The crowds are bigger in December, and we have to be attentive,” he explained. “It can be challenging to spot potential crime because of the human traffic, so we have to be more cautious and look out for tell-tale signs.”

What keeps him going is the sense of satisfaction he gets from helping those in need. “Once I arrived at a scene where a lady had just been assaulted by her boyfriend,” he recalled. “I could see her distress. Being able to assure her that she was okay, and that we would help her – that’s what encourages me to keep volunteering.”

“It can be challenging to spot potential crime because of the human traffic, so we have to be more cautious and look out for tell-tale signs.”

26 Dec ICA Harbourfront Muhammad Hazim
PHOTO: Desmond Ang

Pride in Doing a Job Well

For Sgt 2 Muhammad Hazim Bin Abdul Jabar, a Checkpoint Response Team Officer with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), working on a public holiday is simply “part and parcel” of being an ICA officer.

The 29-year-old joined the ICA four years ago after graduating from Nanyang Polytechnic, out of a passion for protecting our borders. He spent Christmas on shift at the Singapore Cruise Centre, and will be working on New Year’s Day as well.

26 Dec ICA Harbourfront Muhammad Hazim Wheelchair
PHOTO: Desmond Ang

Catering to a stream of international and regional travellers, the Centre buzzes with activity. “Shifts during the festive season are usually challenging due to the higher volume of passengers coming in and out of Singapore,” said Sgt 2 Muhammad Hazim. “We have to be on our toes.”

A memorable case he recently encountered involved a traveller who he suspected was an imposter. “By carefully checking his documents and interviewing him, we established that this man wasn’t the rightful owner of the passport,” explained explained Sgt 2 Muhammad Hazim. “So we sent him back to his port of origin.”

This commitment to security and service often means that he has to defer his own plans. “Sacrifices have to be made, so I spend time with my family during my days off, to make up for lost time,” he explained.

For Sgt 2 Muhammad Hazim, this is a small matter compared to the satisfaction he gets from doing his job well. “As ICA officers, we have a frontline job, and the safety of Singapore is our main priority,” he said. “We take pride in the work that we do, and sacrifices have to be made, to safeguard our borders.”

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